- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications (January 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0486425045
- ISBN-13: 978-0486425047
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,923,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics
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Top Customer Reviews
This is one of them.
Can't say authoritatively if it has anything to do with 'real Zen ' since I'm not, to my chagrin, the living Buddha, and apparently not one Zen master in a hundred claims to be 'enlightened' these days, at least not among the second generation bumper crop of American and European Zen masters-- A source of relief if you've ever read their vapid and banal pronouncements on life, death and the meaning of the universe.
Guess they just don't make 'em like they used to in ancient China.
Nevertheless, Zen appealed to the young Western intelligensia via the writings of Suzuki, Watts and company. It's almost a religion tailor made for dashing bookworms (Is this a koan?)
Here, R.H. Blyth gives the reader a, as Jung would say, 'mythological Zen' that perhaps never was, but should have been, and he does so in an amazing book on English Lit.
So what's your attitude to life? The heroic as exemplified by Henley's great poem "Invictus"? Or are you a child crying in the night, crying for the light , and with no other language but a cry?
That section alone is worth the price of the book, but it's in the analysis of Hamlet as the archetypal 'zen-less' Western man that R.H really springs to life.
There are about as many critical interpretations of Shakespeare's prince as there are of Jesus, but R.H. has come up with one of the most outstanding.
Hamlet, THE greatest figure in tragedy since Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripedes put ink to papyrus, suffers from 'Words, Words, Words'--for R.H. the clue to his (and our own ) malaise, as contrasted with the 'Zen-filled man ', the one and only Don Quixote de La Mancha !
R.H's study of Quixote--and Cervantes--is brilliant, though he modestly begs the reader's pardon for including the greatest of knights in a work of English, rather than Spanish literature.
I have no idea if Blyth "gets" Zen, and to be frank I don't care if he doesn't. His project -- attempting to prove that everything worthwhile in English literature (as well as all of European culture and the Bible itself) is an expression of Zen is boldly and hopelessly futile. And as such, it's a perfect expression of Zen as he knows it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Again, deep gassho to Joseph Campbell (Myths to Live By), D.T. Suzuki (Essays in Zen Buddhism), Philip Kapleau (3 Pillars of Zen) and R.H. Read morePublished 21 months ago by master solrac
I ordered this used book through Amazon as a Christmas present. It arrived carefully packaged, in a timely manner and was the correct book. Read morePublished on January 15, 2012 by William Connor